Given its potential for reducing the proportion of people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) unaware of their diagnosis, partner notification for HIV has been underutilized. This study aimed to determine if the implementation of opt-out referral of men who have sex with men, newly diagnosed with HIV, to partner notification officers (PNO) increased the proportion of sexual partners notified.Methods
In April 2013, all individuals newly diagnosed with HIV at the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Australia were referred to Department of Health PNO to facilitate partner notification. The number of sexual partners reported by men and the proportion contacted in the 12 months before (opt-in period) and after (opt-out period) this policy change were determined through review of the clinical PNO records.Results
Overall, 111 men were diagnosed with HIV during the study period. Compared with men in the opt-in period (n = 51), men in the opt-out period (n = 60) were significantly more likely to accept assistance from the PNO (12 [24%] vs 51 [85%]; P < 0.001). A significantly higher proportion of reported partners were notified with opt-out referral (85/185, 45.9%; 95% confidence interval, 38.6–53.4) compared with opt-in referral (31/252, 12.3%; 95% confidence interval, 8.5–17.0) (P < 0.001).Discussion
Opt-out referral to PNO was associated with a substantially higher proportion of partners at risk of HIV being contacted.